Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid and L-ascorbic acid although these are actually different forms of the vitamin) is an essential nutrient to our overall health and the health of our skin.
It supports tissue repair, strengthens our immune system and is essential to many of the enzymatic processes in our bodies that keep us healthy: a lack of Vitamin C is known to cause scurvy, one of the first nutritional disorders to have been identified in sailors. Vitamin C is also a powerful anti-oxidant.
Found naturally in a variety of foods citrus fruits being the most commonly cited examples Vitamin C is used in a wide variety of over-the-counter medicines, is sold as a dietary supplement and is increasingly a key ingredient in skincare products.
As a powerful anti-oxidant, Vitamin C neutralizes the free radicals that cause oxidative stress to skin and lead to premature skin aging. It is also essential to the production of collagen in skin cells, helping to support skin structure and delay signs of aging.
Vitamin C as anti-oxidant
Vitamin C is proven to help neutralize the free radicals in our body that lead to oxidative stress. This helps to prevent premature skin aging and delay the visible signs of biological skin aging. Oxidative stress leads to dull, tired- looking skin and Vitamin C gives it the boost it needs to look younger and fresher. You can find out more in What are free radicals and how do they affect skin?
Vitamin C and collagen
Collagen is one of the natural filler substances in skin. Its in plentiful supply when were young and helps to give skin its firm and even appearance. As we age, collagen declines, and this decrease contributes significantly to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles and a loss of volume and contours in aging skin.
Vitamin C helps in two ways. Firstly, it is essential to the production of collagen in skin cells. Secondly, as a powerful anti-oxidant, Vitamin C helps to protect skin from the free radicals that break down the cells that produce skin components such as collagen and speed up its degradation.
Your body cant produce Vitamin C, so it relies on you providing it with a supply. And because our bodies cant store Vitamin C, it helps to consume and/or apply this nutrient daily.
Vitamin C is also increasingly used in topically (externally applied) skin care products. It is used to give skin a boost and to keep it looking young, healthy and radiant and is often one of the first anti-aging products people use and you can find out more in anti-aging in your 20s.
A diet rich in Vitamin C
A healthy, balanced diet rich in Vitamin C is essential to both overall and skin health. Eat lots of fresh fruit and veg such as leafy greens, tomatoes and citrus fruits.
Vitamin C and skin care
Vitamin C is increasingly popular in topical (meaning externally applied) skin care products where it can help give skin a boost and keep it to look young and radiant.
One of the benefits of using a Vitamin C-enriched skincare product is that you can ensure that youre applying it right where its needed. But not all Vitamin C face care products are born equal, and there are some things to look out for:
- The form of Vitamin C: Some forms of Vitamin C, such as L-ascorbic acid, are more active than others and more widely researched and proven as a skincare ingredient.
- Concentration: Research has shown that, to make a difference to skin cells, a product needs to contain at least 8% Vitamin C. Formulations over 20% do not increase in effectiveness and may also cause some irritation. 1
- Freshness: Pure Vitamin C degrades when its exposed to oxygen so its at its most effective in a product where the delivery mechanism enables it to be freshly combined with the rest of the formula.